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Ngong: Why former white settler town remains a paradise

The Ngong town as seen from from the hills in the west side of this fast growing urban centre.
Kajiado News Update

Kajiado News Update

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BY KNU REPORTER

About 30 kilometres southwest of Nairobi lies Ngong, a vast swathe of land overlooking the Great Rift Valley, which has close links to the country’s colonial history. 

During the years of British colonial rule, the area around the Ngong Hills was a major settler farming region, and many traditional colonial houses are still seen in the area. 

Once predominantly inhabited by the nomadic Maasai, the town has changed gradually, becoming a cosmopolitan centre and boasting remarkable developments in terms of infrastructure, social amenities, and physical and social structures.

Today, Ngong and its environs are a well-developed suburban area, providing a good residing place for many of Nairobi’s workers. 

Once considered a major settler farming area, Ngong – derived from the enkong’u emuny”, which means “rhinocerous spring” or “knuckles”, referring to the four hilly peaks of the Ngong Ridge – has grown from a backwater centre to a bustling town. 

Initially, before the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission introduced new constituencies, Ngong Division consisted of the Nairobi suburbs of Ongata Rongai, Kiserian, Matasia, and Oloolua area. 

Kitengela town and its suburbs, at the time, were still part of the larger Kajiado East Constituency, and just like the Ngong area has remained Nairobi’s bedroom for working-class people and people. 

Ngong town started growing when it experienced a huge influx of people during the recession of the 1990s when people from many government institutions in Nairobi moved thereafter the government stopped providing housing for them. 

This human influx earned it the nickname, “the bedroom town of Nairobi”. 

In the 1985 film Out of Africa, the four peaks of the Ngong Hills appear in the background of several scenes at Karen Blixen’s house, located near Ngong. Residents still reported seeing lions in the Hills in the 1990s. The solitary grave of Denys Finch Hatton, marked by an obelisk and garden, is located on the eastern slopes of the Ngong Hills, overlooking the vast game reserve. 

The Ngong Hills.
The Ngong Hills.

Former and current world marathon athletes, including one-time champion Paul Tergat, reside here. Most athletics champions, who are representing Kenya in international meets, train in Ngong town. 

The oldest church in the area is probably the Catholic Diocese of Ngong. Ngong town was first incorporated in the 1900s as a township of Nairobi and the regulations governing it was published on April 16, 1900. 

Originally, Ngong town was mostly occupied by the Maasai community, but other communities later moved in. 

It is estimated that Ngong has a population above 200,000 people, and the town now is fully metropolitan. 

Other than a few indigenous Maasai, who have intermarried with mostly the Kikuyu community, there are many other ethnic communities such as the Kalenjin, Kisii, Luo, Kamba, Somali, and Luhya.

Sitting above 1,916 metres above sea level, Ngong provides the most ideal climate in the entire Kajiado County, making it the place of choice for the rich from Nairobi who, wish to put up palatial homes for retirement due to its closeness to the city.

Ngong town has continued to attract investors in the construction industry.

Earlier in this decade, the Ngong area had been turned into a den of criminals, but after police put up a command centre in the town, flying squad officers secured the town from marauding gangsters.

Modern hotels now dot the Ngong area, attracting local and foreign tourists. The cost of land around Ngong is the highest after Nairobi, with one acre now going for almost Ksh50 million.

Local communities are now eyeing the Ngong veterinary land, and have been protesting the delay by the government in returning the land to them.

 

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